The war came suddenly to Fallbrook. On the first day, when Japan attacked Hawaii on December 7th 1941, there were 6 young sailors from small town Fallbrook aboard ships in Pearl Harbor that fateful Sunday morning. A 7th Fallbrook sailor was on Midway Island when the Japanese attacked there, on the same day.
Charles Swisher grew up and attended school in Fallbrook. He was a 19 year old seaman 1st class on the USS Arizona when it was hit by several bombs at Pearl Harbor causing the Arizona to explode and sink. In the war’s first few moments, Swisher became Fallbrook’s first death in World War II. The Fallbrook VFW Hall is named for him.
Clayton Parkinson of Fallbrook High class of 1940 was at Pearl Harbor on the USS Oklahoma when it was hit. Trapped underwater, Clayton managed to escape through an opening and swim to safety. Just 8 months later, he was serving on the USS Jarvis, when the ship was sunk in a sea battle near Guadalcanal. The USS Jarvis went down with all hands. Clayton Parkinson was lost at sea.
Joseph Blacktooth of Fallbrook High class of 1937 was serving in the Army in the Philippines when the war began. The Army was surrounded, captured and sent on the Bataan Death March. Blacktooth died in a POW camp in Luzon in 1941. Years later, after the war, his remains were exhumed, identified, and returned home. He is buried in Pala.
Robert Ellis, Fallbrook High class of 1939, was aboard the USS Hull at Pearl Harbor. The USS Hull was not damaged in the Pearl Harbor attack and the ship went on to earn 10 battle stars in the South Pacific. The USS Hull floundered during typhoon Cobra in 1944 in the Philippine Sea. Along with most of the crew, Robert Ellis was lost at sea.
Wendall Langford another alumnus of Fallbrook, class of 1939, was just 19 when he died in an aircraft training accident in 1944.
Charles H. Clemmens, Fallbrook High class of 1933, was a bomber pilot flying out of England. His plane was lost over the English Channel in 1943. Clemmens Lane in Fallbrook, is named for his family.
Carl Kolb grew up in Rainbow. He was in an army tank battalion when he died in 1944 at Normandy, France, where he is buried.
Ralph Krafft of Fallbrook, a Marine Corps pilot, died in a training accident in 1944. He is buried in San Diego.
Fred Rodriguez, Fallbrook High class of 1940, was killed at the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. He is buried in the American cemetery in Luxemburg.
Norman Lippold was husband to Charlotte Pratt, a granddaughter to Fallbrook pioneers on both sides of her family. Lippold went missing over the Philippine Sea when his plane did not return from a mission in 1945.
John E. Miller grew up on a farm near Fallbrook. He was a waist gunner on a B-17 when his plane was lost over Europe in October 1943. His remains were later recovered and buried in Santa Barbara.
Stanley Van Dyke was born and grew up in Fallbrook. A bomber pilot, he was lost over Europe in June 1943.
Philip Peters of Pala served in the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific. He was injured and sent to a hospital in Oregon where he died in 1944. He is buried in Pala.
The pain of war went into overtime for Fallbrook. The nation was celebrating the end of the war in Europe, when the Morse family were notified that their son Richard had been killed in action in Austria just days before VE Day.
Richard Morse, was a grandson of the Stewart pioneer family. He had served in France after the Normandy invasion. Morse is buried in the American cemetery in Lorraine, France.
The Germans had surrendered in Europe, but fierce fighting against Japan continued in the Pacific.
Orval Jones had grown up in Fallbrook. A ship’s cook, he had served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of war. Jones was killed at the invasion of Okinawa in August 1945 when a kamikaze hit the ship. He was the last Fallbrook casualty of WWII. Jones is buried in Fallbrook.
Gordon West, a Fallbrook resident, was a Navy Seabee doing dangerous work. He died in a construction accident in Alaska in July 1945. He is buried in Fallbrook.